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Old Feb 26th 2016, 2:04 pm   #16
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

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Originally Posted by ex reg View Post
Ha Ha we're stopping off in HCMC on our way back to UK in March.

It's a bit of a toe dipper to see if we want to spend 2 or 3 weeks there , Dalat, Hanoi and maybe one more place later in the year.
Dalat is especially nice, very French. Make sure to spend some time in Hoi An and to visit Hue.
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Old Feb 27th 2016, 10:41 am   #17
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

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Dalat is especially nice, very French. Make sure to spend some time in Hoi An and to visit Hue.
Yeah we've got Dalat and Hoi An noted if we find HCMC nice and worth a longer visit.

How did you travel between towns when you were there?
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Old Feb 27th 2016, 1:12 pm   #18
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

Plane from HCMC to Dalat, private car to Nha Trang, plane to Hoi An (Da Nang), private car to Hue. We haven't done any further north yet
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Old Feb 27th 2016, 2:26 pm   #19
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

Thanks.
I'll let the missus know and then if we like HCMC she can start planning a trip around the south.
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Old Aug 22nd 2016, 12:07 pm   #20
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

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You'll most likely love it. Most folks do
We didn't.
Not to say it was awful just a big disappointment.
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Old Aug 23rd 2016, 11:31 am   #21
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

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MANDALAY

Despite being Myanmar’s third largest city, bustling and frenetic, Mandalay is still manages to hold on to an olde worlde charm which displays a relaxed attitude to life. The airport is some way out of town and despite a new highway built by the Chinese it still takes over an hour to reach the town centre by taxi. More than twice as long as the flight from Bagan! This is in part due to the slow pace of life here. I don’t think our taxi driver exceeded 50 kph on the journey. This was probably a good thing with two herds of goats crossing the road and a group of horses being rounded up by the roadside. In town the traffic was heavy and disorganised with the only way to enter a road from a side junction or to cross the traffic to turn left (they drive on the right hand side of the road) being to push your way through. But as we never got above 40 kph there was little chance of a serious accident.

Most locals get around on motorcycles and these are by far the most common mode of transport. For public transport I did not see any buses. Taxis (as we know them) are probably only affordable by tourists so the locals have two options. The first looks a bit like a Thai songtiew at the back only a bit smaller. It is a covered wagon with two parallel seats running along the sides. This is attached to what can only be described as the front half of a motorcycle with a single cylinder engine of about 250cc. Although there are a few ‘real’ trucks carrying goods from afar, the local trucks consist of covered flatbed attached to what looked like a ride on lawnmower engine. It was not uncommon to see these loaded with several 25kg sacks of rice with passengers sitting on the sacks and even on the roof.

The city is laid out in a grid pattern with east/west running streets numbered 1 to 45 and those running north/south numbered 46 to 90 something. So it is quite hard to get lost. In the centre of Mandalay there is not much to see other than the Mandalay Palace. With that in mind we choose to stay at the Smart Hotel on 28th Street but this turned out not to be the advantage we anticipated. The Palace complex is surrounded by a moat and although there was once four entrances there is now only one in use, at the east gate. Wherever you stay you will need a taxi to get here. The taxi will take you to the gate, where you must get out and buy a ticket. You can buy a pass that gets you entry to all of the important archaeological sites and is valid for 5 days. Your driver will then drive you to the palace. I found this to be rather disappointing in that most of the grounds are occupied by the military and off limits to foreigners. The palace was actually destroyed by Japanese bombing in the war and the buildings are restorations with very little in them. There are far more interesting things to see and do in Mandalay. North of the Palace there is the temple complex on top of Mandalay Hill and also Kuthodaw Pagoda. It is a good idea to visit these on the afternoon of your arrival and then negotiate with a taxi to take you around for the day south of the Palace. Visit Kuthadaw Pagoda first, in addition to a large golden pagoda the grounds contain hundreds of small stupa arranged in rows. Each stupa contains a large marble slab. The slabs are engraved with the entire script from the teachings of Buddha. Visit the temple at the top of Mandalay Hill towards the end of the day for some fine views of the setting sun over Mandalay.

Although I would not recommend the Smart Hotel, try to find an alternative in this area as it is close to Chinatown and a range of other reasonably priced restaurants. I would certainly recommend MinGaLaBar Restaurant which is close by.

For 50000 kyats you can get a taxi to take you on a full day’s tour taking in the southern parts of Mandalay, including the Mahamuni Buddha Temple with its image covered in literally tons of gold leaf, the SoneOoPoneNyaShin Pagoda and OohminThoneSel Pagoda in the Sagaing Area, a buggy ride around the ancient capital of Inwa and ending up at the famous U Pain bridge. This bridge is over a kilometre in length and constructed from teak wood. It is possible to take some very evocative sunset pictures here but I suggest you might want to do this outside the main tourist season. When we were there, there were so many tourists on the bridge I was sure it would collapse under the weight. One other standard item on the itinerary is a visit to the Mahar Gandar Yone Monastery. Buddhist monks come from all over S.E. Asia to study here and at 10:15 they form into two lines to receive their meal for the day and to sit down in the refectory to eat the meal. This has been going on for centuries but I fear it has now become too famous with nearly as many spectators as monks. I felt this was a bit like feeding time at the zoo and a little uncomfortable. My opinion is that you should give this a miss; although if you can find an angle where you can photograph the monks without several hundred tourists also appearing in the shot it would make a fascinating picture.

Out and about in the countryside you will see agriculture taking place pretty much as it has for centuries, carts and agricultural implements are pulled by oxen and crops are gathered in and carried by hand .
Returning to Yangon for our flight back to Malaysia we touched down at HeHo, the airport for Inle Lake and sat in the plane for 15 minutes before continuing to Yangon.

To summarise, I really enjoyed Myanmar, although this trip was very packed with visits to ancient monuments and important religious temples and Buddha images. It was exhausting but very illuminating and thought provoking. That so many temples could be built in such a small area is awesome. The people exhibited a devotion to Buddha that surpasses many places I have visited in S.E. Asia and the country has still to get through its own agricultural revolution. Would I do the same thing again? Probably not, I would only use Yangon as a transit airport to other areas. Bagan is a must on anyone’s first time itinerary and Mandalay has just the right mix of tradition and archaeological history and photogenic scenery to warrant a visit and I would include Inle Lake rather than Yangon. Would I go back? Yes, in a heartbeat but our next trip would be more relaxed, would certainly include Inle Lake and probably a visit to Sittwe and some of the small towns only accessible from there by river boat. For anyone interested in Myanmar and the standard circuit there is an excellent series of short videos on YouTube. It was shot by a Vietnamese TV crew and the commentary is in Vietnamese with English Subtitles. There are 45 short videos in total starting here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O2N...QjGb5p&index=1. Enjoy!

Thank you, the resurrection of this thread is perfect timing. We are off to Myanmar for a couple of weeks in October.

Arriving Yangon, then Inle Lake for a few days, then Bagan (inc a hot air balloon ride), 2 night cruise to Mandalay where we will finish up.

We have arranged several days sightseeing with a local tour operator and yes after reviewing the itinerary on the weekend are concerned that it won't be much of a holiday as such. But, as with most of our holidays, we take the view that we may never get back there and hence we need to see as much as possible

Fortunately we have a week in Bali post Christmas which will hopefully involve some R&R.
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Old Nov 25th 2016, 12:12 pm   #22
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

If anyone is interested in Myanmar, especially working in that country, I've been teaching in Myanmar since 2012. (I left the UK in 2002 to live and work in Thailand).

Now I work in the new capital city - Naypyidaw, where traffic jams are ..er .. rather uncommon

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Old Nov 28th 2016, 8:57 pm   #23
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Default Re: An eight day tour around Myanmar

What a fun trip and some lovely photo's!
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